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Charlotte Nagey

APR 18, 2019

One of the great things about Baltimore is its blend of urban and outdoor activities. Baltimore may be a big city, but if you drive just a few miles from the urban jungle, you can find yourself wandering the woods, climbing cliffs, or swimming in some pretty epic watering holes.

Check out this list of trails throughout the Baltimore area—pack the sunscreen, hiking boots, positive attitude, and an appetite for adventure (plus snacks).

At Patapsco Valley State Park, experience a 2.5-mile adventure through heavily wooded walkways. Though the trail is gentle, it guides you to Bloede’s Dam and the Orange Grove Flour Mill, which is only accessible by The Swinging Bridge—don’t forget to pay the troll toll.

Searching for a long hike along the reservoir? This 9.3-mile trail along Loch Raven is leisurely and relaxing at the start of the trail. But, as you make your way north along the reservoir, expect to come across more angled pathways that have you feeling like a mountain goat. Deeper in the woods along the trail, find foundations of old homes and remains of what seems to be a cemetery—sounds like a spooky way to spend a Hallows’ Eve night.

Another trail within Rocks State Park, The White Trail offers a boost of natural beauty. Experience a mix of hiking, climbing, and history along this three-mile loop. And just a few feet off this trail, you can climb an eclectic group of rocks known as the King and Queen Seat. What used to be ceremonial gathering place for the Susquehanna Indians now is a place for hikers to get great perspective of the surrounding area—200 feet above Deer Creek.

A short hike within Harford County’s Rocks State Park, this trail is family-friendly but offers one heck of a spectacular payoff. Follow the 1.3 miles of serene forest and occasional climbing all the way to Kilgore Falls, a 17-foot waterfall perfect for taking a dip if you’ve worked up a sweat. Fitt Tip: parking is tough at the mouth of the trail, so pack some patience.

Don’t let the name scare you, this 1.7-mile trail is unexpectedly quiet and beautiful. Prep for a short but pleasant and leveled hike at this trail in Loch Raven. Follow the shoreline adjacent to the trail to reveal a tiny bay great for fishing.

At the end of the Swinging Bridge of Grist Mill Trail, you can take the fork to Cascade Falls Trail. It’s only a 2.1-mile hike, but more rugged than the others in Patapsco Valley State Park. Cross streams and waterways, or tunnel under old train tracks hidden in the forest. Find Cascade Falls along the trail and take in its beauty— because who doesn’t love a waterfall?

The NCR Trail is where history meets recreation. Formerly a busy thoroughfare in the 1800s until its rail lines were destroyed in a hurricane, The Northern Central Railroad Trail stretches 20 miles from Hunt Valley, Maryland to the Mason-Dixon Line. Another mainly flat trail, it’s surfaced with crushed gravel, which makes it great for biking, walking, and running. And it’s super scenic — the trail tunnels through forest and follows the Gunpowder River for miles. Bonus: stop at the historic Monkton “train” station, which is now the visitor center and museum.

Nestled along Lake Roland, this 4.4-mile trail does not disappoint. A fairly flat loop around the lake, you’ll forget you are a short five-minute drive from the small noisy town of Towson. The park offers a great opportunity for local artists to showcase their art throughout the trail — they’re mainly sculptures, but natural lighting is best to accentuate the beauty of the works. Fitt Tip: Parking is tight along windy Falls Road, so be careful as you walk from your car.

Along the Prettyboy Reservoir, this 2.5-mile loop in Manchester, Maryland offers lots of sights. Though it is a challenging trail, with rocky pathways and hills perfect for climbing, we can tell you the effort on your hike is worth it—trek to the Prettyboy waterfall and take a dip in the swimming hole.